Saturday, March 2, 2013

Gasparilla Classic Distance Race Recap 2013

The Gasparilla Classic Distance Race weekend has for I don’t know how long offered four different races; a 15K and a 5K on Saturday and a half marathon and full marathon (last year was 2010)/8K (started in 2011 to replace the marathon) on Sunday.   This year is the 4th year in a row that I’ve done the Gasparilla Distance Classic Race.  Every year I do one of the many challenges that they have and every year it’s the same one, both races on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.  The first year I did it the challenge was called the Bud Light Challenge, starting in 2011 they changed it to Beck’s Light Challenge.  The Michelob Ultra Challenge is both races on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday (2010)/8K (2011 – present).  Once they started offering the 8K on Sunday they created a new challenge called the Select 55 Mini Challenge.  This consists of the 15K on Saturday and the 8K on Sunday.  I do like doing this race.  I mean, the start is only 2 miles from where I live.  How can you beat that?  The courses are down Bayshore Blvd and David Island which is where a lot of my training runs are done.  And, more often than not the weather behaves enough to have a good run. 

The first year I did the challenge (2010) I did it as a lead way into doing a marathon because I hadn’t done one yet.  The (now) Beck’s Light Challenge is a total of 25.5 miles.  Oddly enough, my first year doing the challenge has been my best year for the 15K and only this year did I beat my 5K and half marathon times.  The second year (2011) I horribly sprained my ankle half way during the 15K by slipping on the painted lines in the road because they were wet from the sprinklers and the nearby water stop.  The adrenaline from the race and my stubbornness kept me going to finish the 15K and get back to the start line to do the 5K.  My ankle had swollen up so badly that I was unable to complete the half marathon the next day and consequently unable to finish the challenge that year.  Nice bruising, huh?

My times this year were better than last year in every race, but I placed 3rd overall female (behind Sarah) for the challenge and this year I came in 5th.  Interesting how every year is different depending on who shows up to race, isn’t it? 

One thing about the races is that there are a lot of people, for whatever reason, that don’t like to follow the starting lineup.  So, unless you are in the very front, you are almost guaranteed to run the first mile 1:00 – 1:30 slower than you want.  For example, this year in the 15K, my first mile was 8:55 and the rest of my miles were around 7:40.  Thankfully the race directors have tried to address this and have made it a little better by having waves for the 5K and half marathon.  But, you still have to start in the front if you’re aiming for a certain time and don’t want to have to make up 2 or 3 minutes from the first couple of miles. 

I wasn’t able to make it to the expo this year, but it’s been a pretty good event every year.  I did hear some grumbles from other people that Nike wasn't there this year.  All past years they were set up in the front of the expo with cool gear specific for the Gasparilla race.  Hopefully they’ll be back next year. 

The medals are always good.  A couple of years ago they redesigned the half marathon medal.  They kept the skull design, but made a hinged mouth that could swing.  The Beck’s Light Challenge gives a pretty cool piece of gear in addition to a t-shirt for each race and a long sleeve for the half (they gave cotton shirts in 2010 and have switched to dri-fit since).  In 2010 it was a grey cotton sweater with the Gasparilla logo sewn over the left chest.  Meh, kind of boring, but it’s comfortable and I wear it around the house when I’m cold.  2011 was a yellow half zip sweater with the logo.  2012 was a blue vest and this year was a white wind breaker.  I’m not sure what the other Challenges were given.


2011 (no half or challenge medal :( )

2012 5K and 15K

2012 half and challenge medal


Every year they try to change one or two things to make the race better.  Still a few things they could improve on.  Like gender specific shirts.  I do like the dri-fit long sleeves that we get for the half though.  I wear them on cold runs because they are loose fitting and stretchy enough to easily take off and then tie around my waist. 

So, would you like to know how my races compared for each year? 

What have I done differently over the years?  Well, I actually have been training for speed for about the last 2 months.  Other than that, nothing is different.  In 2010 I ran solely on water and gatorade on the course.  What was a Gu?  I was totally clueless to running.  Do you see what I'm wearing in my pictures? 

half marathon



I'm wearing a head band for ear covers, regular cotton gloves and workout shorts that ride up between my legs (thankfully in 2010 is was so freaking cold that the shorts stayed in place for the most part).  I didn't even have a garmin.  I was using the Nike + with the foot pod.  So, obviously I had no idea what I was actually running each mile in unless I did the calculation because the foot pod is only good if you keep a steady pace that is the same for all your runs. 

This year, I didn't take any gels during the 15K and 5K, but I did take 2 during the half.  So, honestly my improvement comes from sheer hard work... hills and sprints.  They're not always fun, but they pay off.